Poetry: AV11-Poetry

Poetry


Accent

I finally had the dream I murdered my father.
I rang him to apologize, but no answer.
There was instead a new answering machine message.

There were harsh buzzing insects
sewn into the impression of my father’s voice,
the one that told me he was not there.

Had these bugs always been there,
stitched below his modest surface?
I rang again for another listen.

When he answered, I hung up.


Taxonomy

Inside the whale,
a little wet, but
everything intact.

The people I met—
a muleskinner,
an Austrian doctor,
had severely aged.
“No” they said.
“It is merely
the damp which
has wrinkled us.”
And It was true.
Nothing had aged.
Everything was
preserved.
It was like a fine
British museum,
right down to
the cockroaches
under our feet.


Sweet Charity

In the middle of a war
you walked over
the frozen pond
on your knees

a shaved head
on your shoulders

to lick the snow
from the glass eye
of the paralyzed fish


Blue Roomate

The moon is my enemy
I wipe my mouth with it

I hide behind a bush
Faster and faster

Like a sleeping city
It barely lifts itself

A warehouse, a ship
that is never empty

the poet forever unpacking


The Feminine Scale

Fall’s arrival—
and the wind rise
snaps flags, tree limbs,
newspaper pages in my hands.
I see her stroll to me, coat-bound,
hair black and shimmering silver under the moon.
A scarf, loose in folds of ginger and teal,
follows wildly as she moves.

At dinner, at conversation’s hedge,
I watch her thin brown hands,
fingertips sensual along
crystal stem, inlays of a jade bangle,
a camisole’s yellow silk.
We started as lovers.
Age and kinks and culture gaps
ended that in bed.
And so, we’re friends—
partners in license, in appetite,
in dramas with no demands.
I have her affection, habituated, offhand.
I know her daughter, her single malt Scotch,
the married men she travels with.


Orienting

Dig it deep enough and you’re in China,
my parents told me. I took the shovel
out below the garden, bent on finding
the other side of the world or bust, and
prepared to go through hell to get there, fight
the Devil on my way, clank him over
the horns and so (I prayed) put out the flames
with his own red blood. By that time I’d meet
some Chinese boy digging down the other way
who’d help me put Beelzebub on ice.
Well, I never made much progress, even
working with gravity. I’d always quit
a couple of feet into the earth, when
I had no strength left to lift out the world
I raised around my head on every side.
I’d hit stones I couldn’t lever loose, or
roots of trees ten feet from their trunk. Down there
is China’s up-here. We’re upside-down to them.

I dreamt I was playing in the garden
—this was the night after my last attempt
—and the earth moved and a shovel plunged through
and a boy about my age appeared. He
made it, successful where I’d failed. I ran
over to congratulate him. He asked
as he sat and looked and sweated
something I didn’t understand but meant
Where am I, Did I make it, Who are you?
I gazed down through the hole and saw a blue
speck at the nadir of the deep and black
and then jumped in, like falling down a well
when there’s no bottom but the top. I fell
for about thirty-seven years and now
I’m here at last. Cultural exchange, call
it. To return I have to fall again,
which means waking or, if I’m blessed, dying
and I hope I never do. Wake, I mean.


Window Seat

We’ve been here for a long time, in this place (in our places). Our footing seemed so sure, our arms out for balance. How funny to find that we were walking on water in its gaseous state, our feet catching an imaginary rock here and there. From inside it looked like frozen cotton, or a blanket of warm froth, ‘though when we touched it our hands vanished. It makes me wonder what is wrong with this pane of glass (my breath makes a fog as I draw). When I think of you thinking of mountains, the steel machine you’re in making a mist of what was once the whole world, I hope you have a window seat, that the view is clear, and that you are seeing what I am. Your breath makes a fog as you sleep.


Seven Feet (and then some)

His hips reach my chest,
and somehow, it’s strangely appealing
for its slightly sexual insinuation.

He’s different and it’s
beautiful after so much sameness
shoved down my throat
without warning.


Blackberry Poems

Consider a small canon of them: all plump with their
fruity possibilities, the absent underlying bitterness
to the sweet taste they sing and the inevitable accusatory
stain always found somewhere on a body part; how
the instrumental birds and bees are never present,
though an undercurrent sweeps through the words,
and the prickers always seem to stand at attention
guarding against the poet’s hunger. How everything,
which hints of the lush, seems deliciously forbidden.

Now consider the blackberry seed, itself, and
the long heated afternoon you will spend, and on,
into the dark juice of evening and night, prying at
the wedged pressure of the seed exerting itself
between the ivories of your smile, then consider
how you could carry in your mouth the very kernel
of that discomfort, mulling it over like a pearl, but
still leave it out of your one addition to that canon––this
one little seed that makes the blackberry blackberry.


Façade

The lizard licks its lips in a tired
early evening way.
I look at his smile, stretched permanently
across his jaws, and I wish that I had
As good a mask.